Prehistoric Myths in Modern Political Philosophy

CIRS held its inaugural Faculty Research Workshop on April 7, 2014, led by Karl Widerquist, Associate Professor of Philosophy at the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service in Qatar. Participants were invited to discuss his book titled, Prehistoric Myths in Modern Political Philosophy. The manuscript is currently in its final stages of preparation and argues that many prominent contemporary political theories rely on false claims about human origins and life in non-state societies. This book shows how several dubious claims became widely accepted premises because they seemed plausible (or even obvious) to Europeans of the early colonial period. It shows how contemporary theories continue to pass on those premises, often unnoticed and unchallenged, and it assembles anthropological and archaeological evidence to refute them. Finally, it discusses the ramifications of these findings for contemporary justifications of property, inequality, and the state.

The CIRS Faculty Research Workshop, in the form of a closed-door, one-day seminar, gathers together a small number of renowned scholars to engage in a focused discussion on a book manuscript that is in its final stages of preparation and has been authored by a member of the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service in Qatar faculty. The gathering consists of a series of structured brainstorming sessions, through which we engage in a thorough and critical discussion of the book manuscript. All participants will have read the entire manuscript in advance of the meeting and we ask individual scholars to lead focused group discussions on different chapters.

Karl Widerquist specializes in political philosophy. His research is mostly in the area of distributive justice—the ethics of who has what. He holds two doctorates—one in Political Theory form Oxford University (2006) and one in Economics from the City University of New York (1996). He is the author of Independence, Propertylessness, and Basic Income: A Theory of Freedom as the Power to Say (Palgrave Macmillan 2013), and coauthor of Economics for Social Workers (Columbia University Press 2002), Basic Income: An Anthology of Contemporary Research (Wiley-Blackwell 2013), Alaska’s Permanent Fund Dividend: Examining its Suitability as a Model (Palgrave Macmillan 2012), Exporting the Alaska Model: Adapting the Permanent Fund Dividend for Reform around the World (Palgrave Macmillan 2012), and the Ethics and Economics of the Basic Income Guarantee (Ashgate 2005). He is currently under contract to author or coauthor two more books: Prehistoric Myths in Modern Political Philosophy (Edinburgh University Press 2014) and Justice as the Pursuit of Accord (Palgrave Macmillan 2015). 

Prehistoric Myths     

CIRS supported the publication of Karl Widerquist and Grant S.McCall’s book Prehistoric Myths in Modern Political Philosophy (Oxford University Press/Edinburgh University Press, 2017).